Eric Cheung - Living the Dream

Eric Cheung has enjoyed a wonderful first season as a senior rider and he added to that with another four winners over the weekend, to take him to 56 winners for the season, and sounding an ominous warning to champion jockey Luis Corrales for next year.

In fact, Cheung had a total of 11 rides over the Friday – Sunday race cards for four winners and four seconds, giving him a 36%-win strike and a 72% place hit.

ECLAIR SUNSHINE winning the THE PENGLAI PAVILION (DIV 2) Picture: Macau Jockey Club

Sio Cheung's Manulmperial started the ball rolling for Cheung, when he showed plenty of fight to stave off the late charge by Military Strongman (Luis Corrales), in the 1st Division of the Class 3 over 1350 metres on Friday night.

Manulmperial has been a good buy for his five-way partnership of owners with now two wins and two second placings in Macau, all on the sand surface.

The five-year-old gelding had formerly raced in New Zealand as Spijker when prepared by Awapuni trainer Mike Breslin, where he chalked up a consistent four seconds and two third placed efforts from nine starts.  The son of Iffraaj (GB) however, has really found his niche on the Macau all weather surface.

KINGDOM QI FENG winning the THE TEMPLO DA DEUSA A-MA (Div 1) Picture: Macau Jockey Club

Eclair Sunshine  from the Danny Wong yard was the second of Cheung's winners, when he easily accounted for his opposition in the 2nd Division of the Class 3 over 1350 metres.

It was win number seven in Macau for the former Australian galloper, who has placed on another seven occasions, and is now nudging the $2 million HKD mark in prize money.

Cheung had to wait until race five on Sunday to kick home his third winner for the weekend, with the New Zealand import Kingdom Qi Feng, for his former master Stanley Chin in the 1st Division of the Maiden over 1200 metres.

SATONO ETERNAL winning the THE FORTALEZA DO MONTE Picture: Macau Jockey Club

Kingdom Qi Feng  came well credentialed with two nice trial wins in NZ at Matamata and Avondale. A son of the ill-fated Group 1 winner Atlante (Aus), Kingdom Qi Feng whilst still a little on the green side hit the line well to beat Finance Time (Peter Lao), with Luen On Mammon (Masa Tanaka) a distant third.

Japanese import Satono Eternal  rounded out Cheung's weekend when he saluted per medium of a perfect rails hugging ride, to win the last of the day the Class 4 over 1800 metres.

It was the fifth win in the enclave for the son of Deep Impact (Jpn) who looks capable of more than Class 4 especially at the 1800 trip.

Jockey Eric Cheung and Stanley Chin
Jockey Eric Cheung and Stanley Chin Picture: Macau Jockey Club

Satono Eternal is certainly bred in the pink, as well as being by the great Deep Impact (Jpn), he is out of So Many Ways a daughter of Sightseeing (USA), who was unbeaten in her two-year-old year winning at Grade 1 level in the USA.

Hong Kong born Cheung was a late starter in the jockey business at the age of 24 years.

Cheung had originally joined the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Apprentice School in 2008 at age 15. 

Because of his height, being quite tall for a jockey, he didn't make the cut as an apprentice and began riding trackwork in Hong Kong at the age of 18.

BOTTMINGEN winning the THE COLINA DA PENHA Picture: Macau Jockey Club

Being a natural lightweight at 110 pounds and still wanting to pursue his dream of being a jockey, Cheung took the plunge and headed to Australia where he rode work for various trainers including Toby Edmonds at the Gold Coast, before moving to Warwick Farm as a freelance trackwork rider.  An opportunity came up with Gordon Yorke and he began his apprenticeship with him at Gosford in late 2015.

Radiologist trained by Yorke gave him a perfect start in winning at his first race ride at Coff's Harbour in June 2016.  Cheung rode another 17 winners from 100 race rides in Australia before visa problems forced his return to Hong Kong.

After a year away from racing he was enticed by former champion jockey Stanley Chin to give it another go in Macau, and won at his first race ride in the enclave on My Fortune Star for Chin in March 2018.

In a pre-race interview prior to last weekends racing, Cheung was very humble in talking about his success, and paid tribute to the many trainers that have come to utilize his services.

"Yes, this season has been so amazing for me. I have been chasing my dream for a long long time and I am so happy that I have such a good result."

"I really appreciate all the support that I have got from my master Stanley Chin along with Sio Cheong, Geoff Allendorf and Tony Fung and all the people that have supported me."

When asked about next season his prompt reply was, "I will be chasing (Luis) Corrales hard next season, it's my dream to be champion."

Cheung has now ridden a total of 122 winners, which is a fine achievement give that with time off for injury, and he has only completed three seasons in total race riding.

It has been a just reward for his perseverance and determination, to pursue his childhood dream.

Geoff Allendorf is excited about the prospects of his new Australian import Bottmingen, who scored an impressive first up win in the Class 3 over 1200 metres under top jockey Luis Corrales.

A good-looking chestnut son of the 2009 Group 1 Oakleigh Plate winner Swiss Ace (Aus), Bottmingen  looked super the way he hit the line after coming from well back in the run, and being momentarily held up in the last one hundred and fifty metres.

Bottmingen had shown promise in his four runs in Victoria when prepared there by Alan and Jason Williams, winning a Cranbourne Maiden and placing at Sandown and Moe.

Allendorf has high hopes for the chestnut gelding, and had this to say after the win.

"He is a very good horse that has for sure got plenty of upside. He is still settling into the place because it's been so hot and humid here, and he came out of the Australian winter."

"I'm very happy that David Price put him in my care; it's a while since I've had a good cup horse and this is one that I think will measure up. He has a very bright future for sure."

The win gave Allendorf 26 wins for the season and puts him in fifth spot on the trainer's standings.

"I'm very happy with the season with the smaller team. As well my 26 winners I've had 69 placings and 32 of this have been in the Q spot."

"I have not had any cup horses or high-class horses this season, but I've got stable full of honest horses that are still collecting prize money at the end of the season, so that keeps your owners happy."

Bottmingen is named after the Swiss township of the same name, and home to the heritage listed Bottmingen Castle

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